In the 20 years I live in Brazil, with every World Cup I always have seen the country transformed into yellow, green and blue. Now, this year, the year in which Brazil is organising the World Cup itself, there is almost no street, no wall, no building, no bus, coloured in green, yellow and blue. There are no banners hanging from the windows, there are no paintings enlivening the streets, there is no festive mood. The vendors of football paraphernalia are complaining that nobody is buying any.
People complain and are disappointed about what was promoted as “the World Cup for the People”, but turns out to be unaffordable with its sky high prices for the entry tickets.
No one is really interested, no one believes in an exciting World Cup. A poll by the daily newspaper O Globe showed that more than 50% of the football fans don’t belief in a high-level World Cup, let alone in the possibility of the national team to win the 6th championship for Brazil. 80% of the people think that abroad the image of Brazil is ruined.
This feeling of being ripped-off, is empowered by uncertainty about the results of the national team enhanced by articles in the daily papers that Brazil’s national team is decidedly weaker and less experienced compared to the teams of Germany and Spain.
The sportive forecast isn’t making the Brazilian feel any better. And thus there is no reason to feel festive with a World Cup he can’t afford, the failing organisation, the incompetent government officials, the excessive brutality of the police, the all-around him flourishing corruption and the lack of basic public services. There is nothing to party on.
Will the mood change. Yes, I think as soon as the national team comes through the first runs and stays in the race, the mood will change and the streets and buildings will change colour timidly.
But for the time being the frustration with all things around the World Cup is reflected in the decoration, or the lack thereof, in the streets. Let’s compare with the World Cup 2010 in South Africa. The first photo slide shows the streets weeks and weeks before the World Cup started. The second shows the streets as they are at this moment, just less than 20 days before the kick-off in São Paulo.
At 20 days from the start of the World Cup the streets, traditionally decorated for the event, are empty. Residents and shopkeepers didn’t mobilize to decorate them with flags, paintings and green and yellow ribbons as in previous years. The Brazilian is not in strike against football, but the elite of the football world barred the people from the party. The World Cup has become an event for the privileged. It’s no longer a party of the people, much less for the people. It’s for an elite that has nothing to do with the origins of football. Let’s look at the decorations of taday.
And so, instead of festive decorations we see graffiti appear on the walls. In the main thoroughfare, Dias da Cruz in the neighbourhood Méier, drawings criticizing the event occupy part of the asphalt. It is the way Brazil’s graffiti artists protest against hosting the World Cup.
In Méier, the protest is more visible. Drawings are large, occupying the length of the street, between Oliveira and Manuel Barbosa streets. In one, the flag of Brazil has new details. The phrase “Ordem e Progresso” (Order and Progress) for example, is replaced by the phrase “Everything’s Wrong”, with the ‘E’ designed backwards. Everywhere the national symbol is enlightened with phrases like “The State is a Vandal”, “Less Weapons”, “More Schools” and “Demilitarization”, among others.
In a graffiti drawing a hungry boy holds a food plate with a ball on top. And across the street, a drawn body, the victim of a shooting, with slogans of protest around him.
Right next to the drawings of protest, a small kiosk, sells besides sweets and candies, football shirts, horns and props for the football fan, but according to the vendor demand is still small.
Despite all the problems and irritation, the Brazilian football fans will do their part. That the Brazilian loves football is undeniable. When Brazil was chosen by FIFA to host the World Cup 2014 there was a general frenzy, after all, Brazil is the only country that won five World Cups and participated in all editions of the tournament since 1930.
But the mood is not at its best. The euphoria of earlier times gave way to unprecedented pessimism. And this has nothing to do with the Brazilian national team, they count on the hexa-championship. Look. It has to do with the series of confusions and disappointments that the country saw since 2007.
Popular demonstrations in June last year have set the tone of the feeling of the population today.
“Yes, we like football. Yes, we root for the success of Brazil. Yes, we want everything to happen in perfect order. But no, you can’t accept to be condoned to so much confusion”.
You can’t hear saying ex-football player and ex-star of the national team Ronaldo ‘Phenomenon’ in an interview that “You make a World Cup with stadiums and not with hospitals” and not feel disgusted by so much stupidity. But Ronaldo, in fact, is too simple of mind to be blamed for what he said.
The exorbitant costs for conducting the World Cup in Brazil and inefficiency in the completion of the works of urban mobility, which in theory would benefit the people after the event, made the Brazilian rethink whether it was worth entering the charade. Suddenly it dawned on the inversion of priorities.
There is no doubt that the people will follow and cheer the team of the “canaries”. Certainly not as before, but the fans will be there. The World Cup will be held, and although street protests will occur, and many, the event itself will not be disturbed and neither the (foreign) football fan molested.
That will not change the fact that the general elections in October will be a weapon in the hands of the people tired of all this irresponsible and immoral behaviour of its government officials. However, although, in general the expectation is that the Brazilian will present the bill with the elections, I doubt it. With many insiders, I believe, that the only way to break the reigning power of the PT (the Labour Party), is if the Brazilian national team will be kicked out of the World Cup. It’s harsh to say that, but if Brazil reaches its hexa-championship the Petralhas*) of the PT will govern another 4 years at least, as they will claim the success of the World Cup and the voter will forget and forgive. The kleptocracy will continue for another 4 years and that might be disastrous for the people.
*) Petralha – Contraction of PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores = Brazilian socialist party) and the Irmãos Metralha (The Beagle Boys in English). The word identifies a member of a moralistic political party who when in power, deceives, steals, kills, lies, corrupts, installing a kleptocracy, in other words a state governed by crooks.
sources: O Globo, Jornal do Brasil, R7, Movimento Ordem Vigília Contra Corrupção – Photos graffiti: Márcia Foletto/Agência O Globo
Why do you figure “that the only way to break the reigning power of the PT (the Labour Party), is if the Brazilian national team will be kicked out of the World Cup”? Winning the World Cup in 2002 didn’t stop Brazilian voters from kicking out the equally corrupt PSDB from government back then. Why it would be any different now?
Luiz, you have a good point there. However I think that the euphoria of a successful World Cup, will give the PT enough ammunition to let the people “forget and forgive”, what went wrong in the years with the PT and not only with the preparations of the World Cup. The PT will hammer on the success (the PSDB didn’t use it in its campaign) and will tell everybody how wonderful they have been, how well executed the works were, easily forgetting the death toll, the exorbitant waste of money and the white elephants.
And in the euphoria people will forget. Between the end of July and October there will be no further talk about the excesses of the World Cup, only the many, many new promises from the PT.
I hope I’m wrong, but I’m afraid we have to see the national team struggling to get the PT kicked out of office.